Feb 23, 2014

In Arizona and California with Team TWENTY16

Lex, Greta, and Abbey. Team TWENTY16

Team TWENTY16 kicked off the 2014 season at Valley of the Sun stage race in the Phoenix AZ area.  The 3 day race was a perfect event for us to get to know eachother, get dialed in on our new Felt bikes, feel out the eachother's riding styles, and ENJOY racing!

It was also the perfect time to get familiar with the nutritional products we'll be using this season.  I've fueled with CLIF over many years, but this time around I got the chance to test out some new CLIF products.  I wasn't familiar with Kit's bars, and they're my new favourite I think!  We're also hydrating with MRI's products.  I like to start the race with a half-portion of MRI's mix in one of my bottles, and grab a full-strength one in the feed-zone during the race.
Kit's Organic cashew and fruit bar is my favourite flavour so far, but they're ALL so good!  They're so soft and moist.
Next, we're off to southern California for our team camp.  Our first priority is to get some great training rides and drills in together. There will be a lot of awesome things going on with our sponsors during camp, ant that will be a lot of fun too.  Then, Murietta Stage Race in Southern California will wrap up this first block... and I'll head home to my trusty eMotion Rollers, and my espresso machine (I'm all about living in the moment, but okay, okay, I admit, I'm missing that thing...)
One of the final espresso shots that I pulled before leaving Montréal...good memories. I'd still rather be here with my team though ;)

Feb 19, 2014

Off-Season Training : Get in the Gym!

The off-season is no vacation; training doesn't stop, it just changes.  The goal is to recover, then prepare for the next season.   While the majority of my training is done on my bike, the winter is a great period to mix things up and get some cross-training in!

At any given moment in my life, I never yearned to be older than I was. Except as a kid, when I came across a gym. Knowing I was too little and too young to get in that mysterious, magical room filled with intriguing equipment, I couldn't help but wish a few years of my youth away so I could get in there and PLAY. There wasn't much point wasting time on a wish like that, so, I would go and ride my bike instead...

I'm (kind of) all grown up now, and today an important part of-off season training takes place in the gym.  I have a consult with an expert who thoroughly evaluates how my body performs and reacts in many different situations.  Specific reconditioning and strengthening programs are established, and they evolve in unison with my progress througout the winter.
We use dumbbells and kettle-bells, elastic bands and resistance machines to build strength. I twist and turn and balance into all kinds of movements and positions to build stability and program proper muscle memory.

A lot of the routine consists in helping my body become more stable, more flexible, and utlimately stronger and more efficient on the bike. Many of the exercises have no apparent relevance to cycling at first sight. And a good part of them are repetitive and sometimes even tedious (...if I'm hungry for lunch) But by diligently going through the motions on a structured and regular schedule, improvements on the bike become apparent. Amongst other things, I've increased my hip flexibility, straightened out a crooked riding position and am working towards a better pedal stroke.
I also spend a lot of time stretching and doing myofascial release work with my Travel Roller. I bring my own Travel Roller, packed with a printout of my strengthening and reconditioning routine, and an assortment accessories that I use for my exercises. Since the Travel Roller is hollow and has meshed ends that close up securely with an elastic, it's ideal for toting around my extra stuff in one simple package. When it's possible to use the same tools wherever I am, I do. So, I bring my Travel Roller everywhere I go.
Some of the stuff that I can pack into my Travel Roller..there's usually even more in there...!

Feb 12, 2014

Cycling Canada Unveils the 2014 National Team List

Cycling Canada has unveiled the 2014 National Team Roster.  I am very proud to be a member of the Canadian National Cycling Team for 2014.  For the entire list, see Canadian Cyclist's announcement here: http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=27131&title=cycling-canada-unveils-2014-national-team-list
Photo copyright : Justin Knotzke
 I will of course be racing for my trade team, TWENTY16 across North America this season.  For more information (and why I'm extra thrilled to be a part of such a cool team!), check out Canadian Cycling Magazine's report : http://cyclingmagazine.ca/sections/news/lex-albrecht-joins-american-team-twenty16/

Feb 7, 2014

A Goal and Focus Beyond Cycling and Competition

The off-season is no vacation; training doesn't stop, it just changes.  The goal is to recover, then prepare for the next season.   While the majority of my training is done on my bike, the winter is a great period to mix things up and get some cross-training in!

For the past few years I've been working on improving my cross country skiing technique. It's a great personal project that gives me a goal and focus beyond cycling and competition. Cross country skiing is excellent for cardio endurance training, and is a super strength building activity that perfectly compliments what a cyclist does, and needs on the bike. Cross country skiing also helps improve balance and stability.

Waxing classic skis is an art. If the grip wax in the center of the ski, that allows you to push off and go forwards isn't perfectly suited to the snow conditions, the ambient temperature and the humidity, it won't work. There are lots of different grip waxes and getting the mix just right is a challenge for me. I typically stick with skate skiing (also known as freestyle skiing) which is a heck of a lot more forgiving in terms of waxing.

One of the best places to ski in all of Québec is the Parc National de la Mauricie (my favorite place to ride my bike in this part of Canada). The terrain is perfectly hilly for a challenging workout but the course isn't technical enough to be frustrating for an athlete who prefers going in a straight line for a long time...
 Where I live I don't ride my bike outside in the winter, but it's an awesome time of year to appreciate the outdoors, and get some quality workouts in at the same time.

Feb 6, 2014

Winter Training : Riding the Rollers

The off-season is no vacation; training doesn't stop, it just changes.  The goal is to recover, then prepare for the next season.   The majority of my training is done on my own bike, regardless of the time of year.  In the winter, I ride indoors more than ever.

Training indoors is ideal for a hard, intense and easily quantifiable session.  On the road distractions such as traffic, terrain, and weather can make focusing on maximum efforts and longer intervals challenging.  That's why I train on the rollers even in the summer from time to time!
The best unit is eMotion's Inside Ride rollers.  I ride them at home, and at PowerWatts Premier Studio in Montréal.  Rollers are like a treadmill for a bicycle.  They allow the rider to pedal and maintain balance, like riding out on the road.  It's a great way to work on certain aspects of technique, because the rollers amplify the effects of a choppy pedal stroke.  The smoother the pedal stroke, the more efficient a cyclist will be.  More efficiency means.... more speed!  Plus, since the feeling is so realistic, riding the rollers doesn't get boring like riding a trainer can!

eMotion rollers bring even more to the table.  This is why they're my favourite:
1.  They're the first rollers to have a technology that allows them to rock back and forth with the bike.  This boosts the smoothness of the ride.  It also allows the rider to sprint hard, without flying off of the rollers and into a wall. 
2. The small wheels (they look like Rollerblade wheels) prevent the bike from going off the side of the rollers.  They're like little bumpers that keep the bike on track.
3. The bumper bars on the back of the unit keep the rear wheel where it's supposed to be: on the rollers.  Not in the air, or on the livingroom floor ;).
4. The incorporated resistance unit allows the rider to add on additional resistance for tougher workouts.
If you want to be good and strong on the bike, you have to train ON the bike!  For me, rollers are a super valuable and absolutely essential part of my training regiment.  These ones are my personal favourite.

Feb 4, 2014

Improve your ride. Improve your life. Improve the world.

I'm going 11 speed for 2014 baby!  (That's an extra cog on the cassette, compared to anything most people, including myself, have ever had the chance to ride.  Do I feel lucky?  Oh, yeah.) All of TWENTY16's Felt bikes are going to be fitted with the new 11 speed SRAM Red.  SRAM is probably the best bicycle component maker in the world because of their leading edge technology and innovation, their  corporate culture, and the initiatives they take to make a difference in the WORLD.   Just watch the  video, you'll understand.

Improve your ride.  Improve your life.  Improve the world.  That's how SRAM rolls, and that's how I  want to roll too.  Hey, that's how I will roll!